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1966 Chevy El Camino Body Repair & Hood Install - Uncovered

Part 1: Project Brutus Gets Prepped For Paint

Sean Haggai Jun 1, 2009

There's no hiding the fact that paint and bodywork aren't cheap. In one form or another, it's going to cost you. Just take our '66 El Camino for example. Like most first buys, our Elco was a solid 20-footer and its history was questionable. It was only when we dropped it off at Rubio's Autobody in Sun Valley, California, that we realized the true condition of the body.

After the initial onceover, it was fairly obvious that the poor thing had already seen shoddy bodywork at some point of its life. The previous owner had filled the gaps, cracks, fist- and foot-sized holes that riddled the car with cardboard and body filler, truly signs of botched craftsmanship. It was then when owner Joe Rubio decided that in order to save time, new panels (where applicable) would be the most viable option to revive our bucket.


To save time and money, we removed everything, including the bumpers, door handles, grille, headlight assembly, tail lamps, and every bit of trim.

While we hadn't planned on stripping the exterior to the metal, it was the correct way to fix our problem. And just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, we removed the rear window, known to be a common rot area on El Caminos, and it got worse.

This is the kind of bodywork we would never attempt on our own. However, Rubio has years of talent backing him and an extraordinary amount of experience building coachlike vehicles from the '30s on, '60s muscle cars, and even classic air-cooled exotics. "I'll take it to the frame if I have to," said Rubio while using what seemed like X-ray vision to investigate the remainder of the chassis.

To say that we were in the right place to get our vehicle back to prime Grade A condition would be an understatement. Rubio's Autobody took quick action and transformed our Elco from an almost painful-to-look-at state to a more recognizable muscle car that was ready for primer and paint. So break out a mask and sandpaper as we prepare this sled for paint.

Quick Notes
What We Did

Stripped the Elco to a shell, fixed the rust, and added a new hood, fender, and patch panel from Original Parts Group.

Bottom Line
The body was a complete mess and required substantial work.

Cost (Approx)


Eastwood Co.



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